Friday, May 25, 2018

Contes Cruels, Firehall Arts Centre

It had been years since Laura and I had been to the Firehall Arts Centre. St. James Church which I attended for years was just across the street. There’s no excuse. We both said how much we’d liked the performances we’d seen.  Then last year we so wanted to go to the Chelsea Hotel production of Leonard Cohen’s music and songs. But it sold out immediately.   Thanks to the Turning Point Gala I was able to win tickets at the auction for the Firehall.   Laura was able to book our seats for tonight.
We arrived early enough to have appetizers at St. Lawrence Restaurant, this truly fabulous French restaurant with so much character we simply found a block away. I’d thought we’d get coffee nearby but this magnificent little morsel of divine cuisine and wonderful service magically appeared.  The duck pate is to die for!  Laura loved her mushrooms white cream sauce and pastry.  The waiter spoke French. The menu was French. I was taken back by the language and atmosphere to St. Boniface, Quebec City and even gay Paris. But there is no doubt that duck had flown in from  New Orleans. The hostess laughed to see my face light up and said she loved to see that expression of joy people always had when they had their first taste.  We are definitely going back for the main course. They were kind enough to rush our order and we were able to be at the Firehouse 5 minutes before opening.
Our gustatory senses and olfactory senses were sated .  Now we were about to have a sensational  visual and auditory experience.
Contes Cruels was written and choreographed by Serge Bennathan who is simply brilliant.  The dancers Josh Martin, Hillary Maxwell, Molly McDermott and Katie Lowen were individually and collectively original, talented, and really quite extraordinary. They moved so beautifully with such strength and form.  I loved the avant garde nature of the work.  The specific movements might have begun  in Europe before the war or between the wars,  in Berlin or Paris,  modern dance pushing the very edges of art.  Degas was fascinated by ballet. Matisse captured the beginnings of modern dance.  Expressive dance grew out of classical ballet into tonight’s 21st century creation with poetic appliqué and sound intertwining bodies.
The choreography of Serge Bennathan and the dance of Josh Martin, Hillary Maxwell, Molly McDermott and Katie Lowen  was truly gifted.      Shouts, rushing bodies, flow and abrupt changes like the northern spring break up released floods of emotion.  I found myself smiling laughing and frowning with the sheer emotion of the presentation.   Then  the sensitivity of a pas de adieux that touched the most vulnerable space between. And always these incredible bodies moving as if the four were gifted children or maybe migrating birds. At moments they were even humans and briefly angelic. The soothing words of poetry provided reassurance.      It was a black space made tactile by the lighting design of James Proudfoot.  Everything about the performance was memorable.
The audience exploded with applause and standing ovation. The dancers bowed and returned and bowed again.
Now Laura and I really want to go back to the Firehall for more. They have yet to announce next year's performances. It will be great too to see future projects of  Serge Bennathan, a Creation for Ballet BC planned for 2019.  The dancers will go on to great fame.
And yes, we will make the time and book a dinner before at the St. Lawrence Restaurant.

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